No matter how fit you are or how healthy your diet is, everyone deals with bloating sometimes. Maybe you're one of those lucky few who only feels bloated when they're on their period. Or, perhaps, you know your body well enough that bloating only becomes a problem for you when you splurge on french fries. Whatever your relationship with bloat, though, I think we can all agree that feeling bloated is the absolute worst. What's even more frustrating than occasionally feeling bloated, however, is whenever you don't know why you're feeling bloated in the first place. One day you're feeling hot AF in every outfit, then the next thing you know, you wake up one morning to discover that your bloated tummy has cheated you out of wearing your favorite skinny jeans.
If you're feeling bloated but you don't know why, the first thing to remember is not to be hard on yourself about it. I realize this is easier said than done, because like all humans, I've experienced how incredibly uncomfortable and annoying bloat can be, how it can affect everything from your workouts to your sex life. That said, most of the reasons you could be feeling bloated are harmless and very easy to remedy. Chances are, if bloat's got you down, there's probably something off with your diet or fluid intake.
If you're feeling bloated and you don't know why, read on.
1. You're Overeating
Let me make this very clear: I am in no way trying to tell you how much you should or shouldn't be eating. Additionally, I know that sometimes people overeat due to stress or depression, so it can be really hard to break this habit. Unfortunately, overeating and binge-eating aren't always easy to control, but they're also one of the biggest reasons people feel bloated. Because of this, it's important to try to eat mindfully.
If you've been eating past the point of comfortably full lately, that's probably why you're feeling bloated. Research suggests that overeating and binge-eating makes us even more likely to feel gassy, and in turn, that gas bubbles up in our tummies and makes us feel bloated. Take the time to listen to your body while you're chowing down, and stop before you get to that miserably-full stage.
If you think you might need help with overeating, talk to a mental health professional about it. And if therapy is out of your financial reach, check out these affordable alternatives.
2. You're Eating Too Quickly
I've definitely been guilty of this one, and you probably have, too. Eating too quickly can be really easy to do. But no matter how starved you are after a long day at work, or how hungry you feel after a tough workout, or how serious your munchies are after a night of watching Broad City, you've got to eat slower if you want to banish bloat.
When we eat too fast, we end up swallowing air bubbles right along with our food, and those swallowed air bubbles could be causing your belly bloat. On top of that, if you're not chewing your food well enough, you could be making it more difficult for your body to digest carbs. If this is the case, then those carbs could be creating gas in your intestines, and that gas could be contributing to your bloat.
3. You're Eating Lots Of Salty/Greasy Foods
Fried foods take longer to digest. Because of this, if you've been hitting the french fries a little harder than normal lately, that's probably why you're feeling bloated. Foods and drinks which are high in sodium can also be a major contributor to bloating. I'm not saying you should swear off these greasy treats or anything, but maybe start categorizing them as "every once in a while" type foods.
4. You're Not Drinking Enough Water
When we don't stay hydrated, our bodies start to retain fluid, and this makes us feel bloated. So, even though chugging water might be the last thing you feel like doing when you're bloated, you should really give it a try. And if water sounds too boring to you right now, make yourself a cup of herbal tea instead.
5. You're On Certain Meds
Certain medications list bloating as a side effect. So if you have any medications that you take regularly, do some research. If you discover that your bloating is a direct side effect of your meds, talk to your doctor about your options.
6. You're Really Stressed Out
The mind-body connection between stress and physical health is no joke. Unfortunately, this connection could even be the reason why you're feeling bloated. Evidently, sometimes our bodies react to stress by redirecting blood away from usual digestive processes. In turn, this can cause bloating, constipation, stomach pain, and even diarrhea.
It's also possible that some of the nervous habits you adopt when you're stressed could be contributing to your bloat. If your stress is causing you to chew a lot of gum, drink too many carbonated drinks, or even gulp air out of nervousness, then being stressed out might be leading you to consume too much bloat-inducing air. Try managing your stress with some restorative yoga poses, a chill night in with a good buddy (or your cat, whatever works), and maybe consider checking out some of those affordable alternatives to therapy.
7. You're Consuming Sugar Substitutes
Artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol, can cause bloating because they literally can't be digested . So if you're not suffering from a medical condition (such as diabetes) that requires you to eliminate real sugar from your diet, then you might want to consider simply limiting your sugar intake, and avoiding artificial sweeteners altogether.
8. You're Eating Foods That Cause Gas
Unfortunately, just because a food is technically good for you doesn't mean eating it won't make you bloat. According to WebMD, fruits and veggies such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, prunes, and even apricots can make you feel gassy and bloated. You might also have a lactose sensitivity and not notice it until you cut out dairy — most people actually have trouble digesting cow's milk, especially. Which brings us to...
9. You Might Have An Un-Diagnosed Condition
Not to scare you, but if you've noticed that you're bloated all the time, and nothing seems to help, then it's possible you could be suffering from an un-diagnosed medical condition like irritable bowl syndrome, (IBS) celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or some other type of food intolerance.
If you think this might be why you're feeling so bloated, don't freak out, and don't try to diagnose yourself via the Internet. Do make an appointment with your primary care physician, though. Because if your bloating is the direct side effect of an un-diagnosed, chronic, medical condition, then you need to know about it.
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